Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 19th January, 2013.
Beginner’s Pluck. Michael Russell.
Michael’s grandmother, from Donegal, told him stories about the Black and Tans, and about people being mown down by machine guns.
“I thought that was fantastic. From the age of 11, I knew I would, somehow, earn my living from writing.”
After Oxford, Michael worked as a press officer; then in farming, writing when he could. Yorkshire Television took him on as a scriptwriter on Emmerdale Farm, promoting him to series producer. He spent two years in the drama department, then in 1989, left ITV to write full time. He is a regular contributor to Midsummer Murders and scripted the last Touch of Frost. He’s lived in Ireland since.
Who is Michael Russell?
Date of birth: 25th September, 1951 in Christchurch, Hampshire
Education: Tiffin boys school Kingston on Thames. Oxford University. English.
Home: Baltinglass, West Wicklow
Family: Wife, Anita. Three stepchildren and two children, aged 18 – 7. And a Rhodesian Ridgeback.
The Day Job: Full Time Writer.
Interests: Walking, history and archaeology.
Favourite Writers: Thomas Hardy, WB Yeats, and for detective fiction, Conan Doyle, John Buchan and Raymond Chandler.
Second Novel: I’ve just finished it. It’s set in Dublin and New York in 1939, and is about what happens to Stefan Gillespie next.
Top Writing Tip: Don’t do too much research until you’ve written the book. Save some until afterwards.
The Debut: The City of Shadows. Avon: €11.50. EBook: €8.47.
It’s Dublin, 1934, and Detective Stefan Gillespie becomes embroiled with Hannah Rosen. She’s looking for her friend, who disappeared after an affair with a Catholic Priest. After two bodies are found, the case takes the duo to Danzig.
“12 years ago, Parallel Films wanted a screenplay based in Ireland in the 1940’s. It didn’t come to anything, but Detective Stefan Gillespie arrived in my mind, and stuck with me. I then became interested in the 1930’s and in Sean Lester, the League of Nations Commissioner in Danzig. I wanted Stefan to meet him.”
The Verdict: A superb debut, with a sure sense of place.
© Sue Leonard. 2013